Photographing NYFW

New York Fashion Week. What a beast.

You really find out your limits when you are thrown into this aspect of the fashion world: 20 hour workdays, fast, fast turnaround for image delivery, and speedy blog posts, scaling up and down Manhattan to a million different venues (despite the popular idea that most of Fashion Week happens at the tents of Lincoln Center). Here are some things I’ve learned in the past few years I’ve been privy to witnessing and photographing this industry occasion….

I now dress reasonably. The last thing I want is for my outfit to get in the way of my job. I try to keep it to basics. Ferragamo flats, men’s button ups, black turtlenecks (hello Steve), dark sunglasses and a good wristwatch…and so I don’t feel like a total dude, my camera bag is as chic as it comes.

Always keep it simple. I only carry that day’s invites, phone for all the Instas, the smallest wallet I could find, a little fashion notebook for thoughts on the collections, my signature red lipstick, GUM (you talk to so many people), perfume to refresh before a social event, my 50mm & 24-70mm lens, 5DMarkIII, lots of camera cards, sunnies to hide your tired eyes, and a Veuve Clicquot folding fan. Such small venues.. so many people… usually not enough air. It’s the most important thing.

Access. Know where you can and cannot go. Despite the fact that I can have an all-access pass and every wrist band under the sun, I can still get harassed by security. There is backstage beauty, first looks, risers, front of house and designer interviews – all different, all color coded. If you want to know more about that, see this.

Backstage is intense. You have a fleet of models on their 4th hair and makeup session of the day. Few venues are equipped with air conditioning, so you can imagine how hot it is with the lights, blow dryers and curling irons on. Designers are doing back to back interviews as they prepare to show their creations on the world’s stage.

Sometimes you get to be witness to amazing moments, like when iconic designers do a last fitting of one of their gowns with a top tier stylist on one of the world’s biggest supermodels.

You slip around to the front of house always 15 minutes after when they say the show time will be. The chairs fill up with fashion’s muses, icons, editors, stylists, socialites, and celebrities.

The view of the front row can be just as beautiful as the clothing…

…and just as charming when you see true joy reflected in the faces of the viewers.

It’s a small industry, everyone knows everyone. There are a million hellos, friends embracing friends, and editors congratulating designers after the show.

Outside the street style photographers wait for their meat and potatoes.

This year we introduced a new component into the mix – Kevin. Whereas I mostly cover backstage pre-show, then slip into my seat for the photographs you see here, Kevin positioned himself in THE PIT with the rest of the world’s press photographers and videographers for a new feature we created for Instagram recaps of the top designer shows: #fw15s.

The man’s arsenal. The centerpiece is the RED Epic, the cinema camera we use both for shooting video as well as cinemagraphs. It’s the perfect compliment to a still photography studio since we can use Canon lenses such as the EF 70-200mm, which is perfect for getting the whole range of full body and beauty shots on the runway. I brought our trusty Gitzo tripod and ballhead for times I needed to get high above the heads of other photographers but I also brought a small monopod when I needed to get low. It paid to be prepared because you never know what the situation might be on the risers.

The view from the risers. You have to have thick skin. There are pit bosses. It can be incredibly limited access at times and at other moments they are packed in like a can of sardines. Kevin always reported back on the commentary, the territorial aspect of the space, and how different being high looks compared to low with the final result.

Then the lights go out and the stilettos walk home… and the editing begins.

All our NYFW coverage here.

25 thoughts on “Photographing NYFW

  1. Loved this post! And so glad to have a link to all of your fashion in 15 seconds videos, so I can share with others. I started following Ann Street Studio about a week before NYFW (just stumbled upon a beautiful pic in Explore), and was so glad I did when these amazing videos started showing up in my feed! LOVED them. Now that I know the pit chaos that Kevin endured to get them, I’m even more amazed at how serene and graceful they are. Well done!

  2. So much love for this post! You always give so much insight into your work and everything behind the scenes… which is so rare to find. It feels like most who have reached success (or on their way) are at times unwilling to share their tips and tricks but you are an open book and that means so much and says so much about who you are not only as a photographer, but as a person.

    Had a chance to attend my first show at NYFW this year and it was a pretty incredible experience.. but boy did it made me respect the work that you do during that hectic week even more! I was exhausted after only a day, and with you guys having attended shows from beginning till end (not to mention the speed that you guys got those photos and magical recaps out) was admirable to say the least!

    And no one would every mistake you for a dude, even without the amazing handbag… total chicness and simple elegance in each of your fashion week outfits! <3

  3. Regardless of the fact that you aren’t always in the best spot, your images are still very communicative. I feel like you are telling the story someone like me would see at fashion week. Not really being ‘in’ but more like an awestruck bystander. I also adore the fact that you include Bill in your photos because honestly that is who I would be very excited to see if I were there!
    Thank you!

  4. i feel like my heart is racing. not sure i could handle this experience but i totally admire you guys for doing it. man it takes guts to be in that environment!

    beautiful work as always!

  5. Jamie — I totally applaud you and Kevin for putting so much passion into fashion week. You guys give such an artistic perspective on fashion week — it’s simply mind blowing. Hopefully, you guys are treating yourselves to relaxing retreats afterwards.

  6. dress reasonably and keep it simple – these are the best words to live by. thanks for this post – for me it’s always fascinating to read and see different takes on fashion week, going to shows, the work involved. wishing you the best!

  7. Absolutely loved this post! All the behind the scenes shots and an insight into your process for fashion week. Great photos as always and you look fantastic!

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